We’ve been out of the COVID-19 pandemic for a year now and trade show attendance hasn’t bounced back. I have never seen the Summer Fancy Food Show this empty before. Their cutting the hours didn’t help. Personally, I believe it should be four days as that’s how long it would take me to properly cover the show instead of speeding through it, especially the foreign pavilions. One vendor informed me that last year his company generated $500K in new business from new accounts in the first two days of 2022, this year they didn’t get anywhere near that in three days.
Beginning as an insert in a daily newspaper in 1986, Gambero Rosso has gradually grown to become the most important multimedia brand in the world of Italian food and wine, encompassing the publication of dozens of guides and books, the first thematic television channel in Europe (begun in 1999), and educational programs both in Italy and internationally – the former constituted of Città del Gusto sites throughout Italy, with Gambero Rosso Academy offshoots in the rest of the world. These initiatives include cooking classes for professionals and amateurs alike, courses in wine, journalism master programs, and seminars on restaurant management. While this economic growth has beget a listing on the stock market, a mainstay of outreach for Gambero Rosso has been the events they organize worldwide – since the first of these in 1990 the number of them has increased to over 40 such annually.
Films have been tanking left and right in their 2022 theatrical runs. Some rightly deserved to but others shouldn’t have if people bothered to show up to the empty theaters and watched movies the way they were meant to be seen. I estimate that of the 20% of the films I saw in theaters this year I was the only one in the audience, some with hundreds of seats. If you’re still afraid of contracting COVID-19, the flu or Monkey Pox (oh wait, they changed the name as some primate activist group said it hurt their feelings) go to the early shows or even afternoon shows midweek when nobody are in the theaters except for the diehard movie buffs, yours included.
Registrants for the annual wine tasting and feast Spain’s Great Match, held once again at the terrific Hudson Yards restaurant Mercado Little Spain on October 12th, were informed that a printed guide of all the producers and wines on offer for the afternoon would not be provided to guests on site for the sake of saving paper – “in an effort to lessen our environmental impact” the tip sheet read – and folks could instead download a detailed listing available online as an app and use that as a basis to navigate their way around the event. For Luddites such as myself, accustomed to writing notes in whatever basic guide is typically handed out at tastings (and too often in a format which allows scant space for legible scribbling), this made for something of a challenge – but also an opportunity; I resolved to focus on those producers who brought with them pre-printed materials which would enable me to jot down notes in the manner I am used to. Call it creative limitation. (One day sometime soon I may yet adopt habits to transition to the Digital World.)
If you consider the tricolore of the Italian flag, its three bands could arguably be seen to represent different sauces characteristic of Italian cuisine, with the green of pesto and white of alfredo or carbonara sauce being followed by the red of marinara (or any variant including the seemingly omnipresent tomato as a base ingredient). Given the relative commonality of the latter sorts of sauces, it wouldn’t be surprising that if you were to ask the average consumer to name Italian wines, they would most likely think of those whose color – red – matches the sauces most often associated with Italian cuisine. They might cite Chiantis, Montepulcianos, Nero d’Avilas, Brunellos or Ripassos, and almost certainly if any varieties from Piedmont come to mind, these would be Barolos, Barbero d’Albas or Barbarescos. Although there are a number of outstanding white wines from Italy, it is nonetheless rare when a tasting focuses on these exclusively, so it was a unique event when the Gavi World Tour descended upon the Midtown Loft on September 7th.
From May 18 to May 25 the Italian Trade Agency presented Italy on Madison, a celebration of Italian culture and cuisine involving restaurants, fashion showrooms and businesses, and featuring panel discussions and special events. On May 23 there were three of the latter, with two taking place at the Italian Trade Commission on East 67th Street. I attended the morning event, entitled ‘Women in Wine: The Italian Perspective’, wherein a panel of five professionals recounted their experiences as trailblazing women in the world of wine, and offered advice for those in attendance aspiring to follow in their path; afterwards guests were treated to a sumptuous lunch prepared by Il Gattopardo restaurant. The evening event was a comprehensive presentation of Italian food items – focusing on the Denominations of Origin which confirm the authenticity and quality of products and ingredients – in the format of a relaxed 10-course dinner.
Walking down Mercer Street on May 12th to attend an ICFF related event, I passed by something I didn’t know about in advance which was also timed to coincide with the furniture fair – a pop-up exhibition space called Casa Brasil. During the last iteration of the Interior Design confab – which atypically unfolded in November 2021, due to the Covid lockdown canceling the event from its normal Spring occurrence in both 2020 and 2021 – the Brazilians showcased their prodigious variety of interior design and furniture products at a temporary showroom in SoHo. With the ICFF restored to its habitual place on the calendar of May in 2022, the Brazilians upped the ante, with the trade organization ApexBrasil renting out a vast exhibition space spanning the block between Mercer Street and Broadway (with entrances on both), and featuring not only design and furniture from Brazil there but also hosting talks and programming focusing on other aspects of the nation encompassing manufacturing, travel, cuisine and wines.
2021 was Year Two of COVID-19 and the theatrical side of the film business was dormant of box office success except for mainly popcorn movies, the ones of the MCU kind. Lots of potentially interesting films hit my radar but alas most were dumped to streaming platforms to never be seen by non-subscribers. Thankfully movie theaters reopened in March* and I was able to catch up on some of what I’ve missed (alas, many of the top titles of 2020 that went to streaming didn’t have a week’s run for large screen movie fans).
The 2021 Tribeca Film Festival (9 June – 20 June) was a hybrid event due to COVID-19 restrictions. Not being a huge fan of screening links (films on the big screen for me…) I limited myself to the feature documentaries category and struggled through a number of streaming glitches. Over all my selections were mainly good choices. Alas, the Brian Wilson documentary “Long Promised Road” was not available for viewing via the Tribeca streaming platform.
2020 was the year of COVID-19 and the corresponding implosion of the film business where many films that I eagerly awaited to see on a big screen, the way films should be, were dumped to various streaming platforms. If the year proceeded the way it should have, I would have watched more films on big screens, discovered new talent and my Top 10 choices may have been completely different. That being said, the films I’ve chosen are all worth checking out as I was watching films up until the day all the movie theaters were shuttered. It’s rather fitting that the last film I saw was the Filipino zombie film BLOCK Z.